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The Real Reason M. Night Shyamalan Cast Dave Bautista As The Villain In Knock At The Cabin

When it comes to casting Hollywood stars in his movies, M. Night Shyamalan is a filmmaker who loves to work with people that he adores on the big screen. From Mel Gibson ("Signs) to Bruce Willis ("The Sixth Sense"/"Unbreakable"/"Glass") and James McAvoy ("Split"/"Glass"), Shyamalan has always been a fan of using actors in his movies that he, himself, enjoyed watching through the years — and apparently, the same can be said about his latest all-star casting choice, Dave Bautista. 

For Shyamalan, part of the fun is getting to work with people that he grew up watching or discovered as an adult through his love for cinema. Take Willis, for example. "He was my hero," Shyamalan told Tass in 2019. "As a kid I had a 'Die Hard' poster up on my wall forever. And when I was writing 'The Sixth Sense' and there was this 'Die Hard' poster, I thought, 'What about that guy? He could play it.'" In the case of Gibson and Shyamalan's 2002 sci-fi thriller "Signs," the circumstances were much similar. 

"He did 'Lethal Weapon,' which was a big moment for me in my life," the director said in a 2002 interview (via Blackfilm.com). "I was on my parents' sofa watching a video of 'Lethal Weapon' and this guy did stuff emotionally that had no business being in an action movie. I completely believed the humanity of a man who was so torn up about losing his wife, that he wasn't afraid of dying, which made him a lethal weapon...When I wrote the movie about a guy who loses faith because his wife passed away, that was the guy." For Shyamalan's next cinematic venture, "Knock at the Cabin," the famed film guru reportedly took a similar approach when casting the villainous lead, Leonard, played by David Bautista. 

Shyamalan cast Dave Bautista after being blown away by his performance in Blade Runner 2049

According to M. Night Shyamalan, the reason that Dave Bautista was ultimately chosen to play Leonard in "Knock at the Cabin" was that Shyamalan had been blown away by his performance in Denis Villeneuve's "Blade Runner 2049" as an emotionless replicant-turned-farmer. While Bautista's time in the movie is actually quite short, it's been hailed by critics — and Bautista, himself — as being one of his best acting jobs to date (via Polygon). 

"I was really taken by what Denis [Villeneuve] and Dave [Bautista] did in that scene in Blade Runner [2049]," Shyamalan told The Hollywood Reporter in a January 2022 interview. "He was still in a way that was powerful," the director explained. "There's a type of stillness where you're not doing nothing; you're doing everything and you're still. Every cell in your body will do what it's supposed to do if you're thinking something correctly. And Dave was embodying all of this philosophy in that scene." For Bautista, the role served as a chance for him to finally break out of the WWE and professional wrestler mold that had haunted him during the early stages of his career

"It was hard for people to see past my physicality and see that I actually wanted to... do some acting," Bautista told Uproxx in May 2021. "[Blade Runner 2049] opened up some eyes and people started looking at me differently," he said. One person, though, who never cared about the former WWE champion's background was Shyamalan. 

"I didn't know who he was at that time, and he stuck in my head," the director told THR. "So when [the 'Knock at the Cabin'] script came, I was like, 'There seems to be one guy who can play this giant human being and do the stillness.' So I asked Dave."

"Knock at the Cabin" is set to release on February 3, 2023.